Synergy: A Leadership Guide for Church Staff and Volunteers


Synergy: A Leadership Guide for Church Staff and VolunteersThe landscape of ministry is rapidly evolving as more and more lay persons take on significant ministry roles. Part of this trend is a growth in lay church staff. In some denominations today, there are more lay persons receiving church paychecks than there are clergy.

Yet our mindset about ministry hasn’t been as quick to change. Lay ministry practitioners are often ill-prepared and underappreciated, confused about their call, and unsure of their theological identity. Synergy is a leadership guide that speaks directly to their needs.

Ann Michel presents a more inclusive, collaborative understanding of ministry, which affirms the gifts and calling of both clergy and lay servants. She uses the concept of “synergy” as a theological framework undergirding this approach. Michel lays out an inclusive and collaborative paradigm of ministry affirming the work of both lay and clergy servants.

Synergy also provides practical advice on the day-to-day skills of synergistic or collaborative ministry — how to engage others in ministry, how to build teams, how to manage meetings, how to develop others as leaders, etc. The book helps church workers, paid and unpaid, understand how their ministry relates to the mission of God and the ministry of the church, and provides practical guidance on the interpersonal ministry skills essential to any expression of collaborative ministry.


Synergy is both a practical and deeply spiritual resource that helps provide a more collaborative way of thinking about ministry shared between clergy and laity. Ann has captured the challenges that can present themselves as laity serve in ministry not only from her research but also from her personal experience as a lay person and respected Seminary theologian, and she offers practical ways to equip laity to fully live in this call of lay servants and lay staff members. As a lay person who has served on a church staff for more than 23 years, understanding this synergistic energy articulated so well in Ann’s writing has reignited my passion and affirmed my call.”
— Debi Williams Nixon, Managing Executive Director, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

“How I wish I’d had this book when I first began my career in professional ministry as a lay staff person! Synergy helps readers serve more effectively. Ann Michel offers practical advice on some of the most important aspects of building successful ministry and shows why we need the contributions of all persons for God’s transformative work in the world. This will be a must-read for our church staff and volunteer leaders.”
— Carol Cartmill, Executive Director of Mission and Outreach, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Kansas City, MO

“All believers are called to serve — laity no less than clergy. Ann Michel’s book is full of practical wisdom that, if followed, will help any church fulfill its true calling.”
— Craig C. Hill, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

“Ann Michel reminds us why teamwork makes sense and then shows how to align the gifts of many for the good of all. Having deeply considered her own calling as a lay leader, Michel helps us consider the power of clergy, church staff members, and lay members who function as a ministry team. Synergy provides not only the challenge to work as the body of Christ but the skills, behaviors, and relational habits that enable this to happen. It will empower readers to claim their fole and awaken a fresh sense of calling with renewed validity and vitality.”
— Tom Berlin, senior pastor, Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, VA

Available at Cokesbury and Amazon
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About Author

Ann A. Michel has served on the staff of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership since early 2005. She currently serves as a Senior Consultant and is co-editor of Leading Ideas e-newsletter. She also teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary in the areas of stewardship and leadership. She is the co-author with Lovett H. Weems Jr. of Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance: A Transformational Guide to Church Finance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) available at Cokesbury and Amazon. She is also the author of Synergy: A Leadership Guide for Church Staff and Volunteers (Abingdon, 2017), available at Cokesbury and Amazon.